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HART 1602 Art in London (19th and 20th Century): History, Memory, Place. Department of the History of Art, University College London.

I designed this course for undergraduate students enrolled in UCL’s study abroad program. Aimed at exploring London's art and architecture, each class was held at a different arts venue in London and incorporated lectures, discussions, in-class projects, and student presentations. The course aligned closely with my research into the social production of collective memory. 

Below is the full course overview and syllabus.

HART 1602 ART IN LONDON: 19th and 20th Century, Department of the History of Art, University College London

Autumn Term 2012, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Seminar Room 4 and various locations

Course Tutor: Meghan Gilbride


Office hours: after class or by appointment


Drawing upon London and its vast and varied cultural institutions, this course considers the intersections between history, memory, and place. It will focus not only on modern and contemporary representations of the past but also the historical and cultural sites in which they reside. During visits to both permanent collections and special exhibitions held throughout London’s museums and galleries – including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Gallery, and Tate Modern – this module will contemplate how notions of history have been shaped and mediated within contemporary visual culture. Thematic issues related to the fields of architecture, painting, film, and photography will be incorporated into our weekly discussions, as we attempt to unravel the entanglements shared between artistic representations and their cultural, historical, and environmental contexts. The course will provide an opportunity to explore the city as a landscape of social memory, where representations of the past can be revisited and reconsidered.


There are a number of texts to read in preparation for each session. The completion of this assigned reading is compulsory and vital, as it forms the basis of the group discussion. All mandatory texts will be available in electronic form via Moodle. A bibliography for further reading has also been provided, and should be consulted as preparation for your essays.

Oral Presentations

Each week, students will be asked to give group presentations (fifteen to twenty minutes) on an assigned work of art. The presentations are not assessed, but they are mandatory and form an important part of each session. Students can contact me by email or talk to me after class with any queries regarding their presentations.

Course Assessment

Assessment will be based on two course-work essays (both 2,500 words), equally weighted at 50%. The first essay is due on the Friday before Reading Week (November 2nd, 5pm), and the second is to be handed in on December 7th, 5pm. A list of essay topics will be made available on Moodle.

Both papers should be based on a close visual analysis of the relevant works of art as well as on relevant literature from the further reading list. Written content should contain a critical discussion of the arguments in the literature and exhibit a personal engagement with the topic.

All essays are to be handed in as hard copies via the department’s grey essay box, which is located in the common room. The essay should include an attached cover sheet noting the course code (HART 1602), the student’s name, and the tutor’s name. Please note it is departmental policy NOT to accept essays electronically.

Week 1 Introduction, Art in London: History, Memory, and Place

Department, Seminar Room 4

No preparatory reading required

Week 2 The Museum, Nationalism, and Culture

Tate Britain


Andy Morris, ‘Redrawing the Boundaries: Questioning the Geographies of Britishness at Tate-Britain’, Museum and Society, 2003, pp. 170-182.

Anne Helmreich, ‘John Singer Sargent, "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose," and the Condition of Modernism in England, 1887’, Victorian Studies, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Spring, 2003), pp. 433-455.

Week 3 Preserved Mythologies: The Museum as Archive

National Gallery


Joan Schwartz and Terry Cook, ‘Archives, Records, and Power: The Making of Modern Memory’, Archival Science, Vol. 2, 2002, pp. 1–19.

Carol McKay, ‘Presence and Absence: Seurat and the “Bathers'”’, History Workshop Journal, No. 45 (Spring, 1998), pp. 240-245.

Week 4 Public Memorials and Collective Mourning

Imperial War Museum


Peter Gray and Oliver Kendrick, ‘The Memory of Catastrophe’, History Today, 51:2, (February 2001), pp. 9-15.

Sue Malvern, ‘War, Memory and Museums: Art and Artefact in the Imperial War Museum’, History Workshop Journal, Oxford University Press, No. 49 Spring, 2000, pp. 177-203.

Week 5 Sites of Renewal: Preservations – Renovations

Somerset House and the Courtauld Gallery of Art


Shelley Hornstein, ‘Fugitive Places’, Art Journal, Vol. 59, No. 1 Spring, 2000, pp. 44-53.

David Solkin, Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House, 1780-1836, New Haven, CT ; London : Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Courtauld Institute Gallery, 2002, excerpt.

Week 6 Departmental Reading Week – No class

Week 7 Postcolonialism and the Renegotiation of Representation

The Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva) – Exhibition, ‘Kimathi Donkor: Queens of the Undead’


Paul Gilroy, ‘Art of Darkness: Black Art and the Problem of Belonging to England’, Visual Culture Reader, Routledge, 1998, pp. 331-337.

Week 8 Photographic Memories

Barbican Centre – Exhibition, ‘Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s’


Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Richard Howard (trans), Hill and Wang, 1981, excerpt.

Susan Sontag, On Photography, Penguin Classics, 1977, excerpt.

Week 9 Mediated Recollections, Inclusions, and Erasures

The Victoria & Albert Museum – Exhibition, ‘Light from the Middle East: New Photography’


Andreas Huyssen, ‘Present Pasts: Media, Politics, Amnesia’, Public Culture, 12.1 2000, pp. 21-38.

Benjamin Genecchio, ‘Revolution’s Long Shadow Over the Tehran Art Scene’, The New York Times, March 31st, 2011, p. 504.

Week 10 The Future’s Past

Tate Modern


Caroline Malone and Simon Stoddart, ‘Editorial. (Tate Modern as new model of museology in the United Kingdom)’, Antiquity, Vol. 74 (Sep 2000), pp. 457-464.

Graham Harwood, ‘"Uncomfortable Proximity": The Tate Invites Mongrel to Hack the Tate's Own Web Site’, Leonardo, Vol. 36, No. 5 (2003), pp. 375-380.

Image credit: Joseph Mallord William Turner. The Fighting Temeraire. 1839. Oil on canvas. The National Gallery, London.